Series: Starglass #1
Published: July 23, 2013
Terra has never known anything but life aboard the Asherah, a city-within-a-spaceship that left Earth five hundred years ago in search of refuge. At sixteen, working a boring job and living with a grieving father who only notices her enough to yell, Terra is sure that there has to be more to life than what she’s got.
But when she inadvertently witnesses the captain’s guard murdering an innocent man Terra is suddenly thrust into the dark world beneath the Asherah’s idyllic surface. As she’s drawn into a secret rebellion that aims to restore power to the people, Terra discovers that her choices may determine life or death for the people she cares about most. With mere months to go before landing on the long-promised planet, Terra has to make the choice of a lifetime—one that will shape the fate of her people.
Liberty on Earth. Liberty on Zehava.
Starglass combines space adventure with a dystopian narrative to bring readers the story of a girl who discovers she is unsatisfied with the government and the only life she has ever known aboard the spaceship Asherah. Terra is a unique protagonist, a bit “every teen” as she questions what she wants out of life and whether she’s pretty enough, but also bold and smart enough to earn admiration from readers. It is immensely interesting to follow her on her journey to questioning what her future should look like.
Normally I find space novels a bit claustrophobic, particularly when they take place entirely within the confines of a spaceship, as Starglass does. However, the summary is correct in calling the ship essentially a city, and Terra has room to roam, explore, and grown. It always feels as if there’s something new to discover in the setting, even as the characters look wistfully forward to reaching their new planet and having new spaces to explore. North does a great job imagining what a spaceship would have to look like, and have to provide, in order to sustain a five hundred year journey.
The plot vacillates between originality and common YA novel trends. I though the opening of the novel more unique than the second half, partially because so many dystopian stories have the plot arc. Apparently there are only so many ways to discover your government is corrupt and then plan to overthrow them. However, the latter half does have enough small twists and unique touches that I remained engaged.
Finally, the Asherah was chartered by a group of secular Jews who wished to keep their culture alive in the wake of Earth’s destruction, bringing a diversity aspect of the novel. The Jewish religion is not much practiced or mentioned (they did specify secular Jews, after all), but there is Yiddish scattered throughout the novel, as well as an emphasis on mitzvot, and some traces of the religion remain—such as one character’s insistence on putting electric lights on the table once a week for dinner. Terra herself, however, does not seem much interested in or attached to her own culture.
Starglass is a solid read for fans of science fiction and for those who are not yet tired of reading dystopian fare. I’m not sure I’m personally engaged enough to really care about reading the sequel, but I did enjoy this installment and think it’s worth recommending.